ARABELA: Awesome Coffee Shop at the Foot of Mount Banahaw

Location: 503 Rizal Street (the street parallel to Gat Tayaw Street with all the footwear shops), Liliw, Laguna, Philippines

I have been a frequent diner of this coffeeshop-restaurant for about a decade. I remember sneaking out with my graduate school buddies in between classes when I was taking my Doctorate degree in Education in Sta. Cruz, Laguna, just to savor its various treats and then to return, obviously late, for our afternoon classes.

BeFunky Collage-1                                 Arabela, 503 Rizal Street, Liliw, Laguna, Philippines

Arabela (Camello’s Bakehaus & Coffee Shop) is a cozy, casual restaurant located in the small highland town of Liliw1, at the foot of Mount Banahaw2. Liliw is known as the Flip-flops Capital of the Philippines, with one long main street full of footwear shops.

Arabela offers delightful dishes, sweets and drinks, all of which make me feel like I am dining in Metro Manila, even if I am about 100 kilometers away. The food selection is good for kids too. Happy tummies for all!

It is located at the lower portion of a renovated 20th century house. It has a low-ceiling since it was originally intended as a storeroom. So, tall persons need to stoop a bit while walking to a designated table – a small inconvenience for an enjoyable dining experience. The long cue of wannabe-diners patiently waiting, or opting to just dine on tables set up on the side street outside the restaurant, attests to its popularity.

It opened on 2002, with two tables used to sell cakes and pastries within the neighborhood. It is owned by Bobby and Antonette “Tonet” Camello who named the restaurant after their two daughters – Ara and Bela. They started with cakes and brownies, and then re-launched on October 23, 2003 as a coffeeshop-restaurant with five tables. Eventually, they maximized their seating capacity to 50, and offered an Italian menu that included appetizers through desserts, along with hot and cold beverages, and now, even wines.

First time diners will definitely feel good knowing that after hours of walking along the main street of the town buying different footwear and pasalubongs, they have a place to finally rest from shopping and to satisfy their palates with the food and drinks offered by Arabela.

 

The interior is a mixture of cool and refreshing yellow painted walls filled with paintings and photos. The air-conditioning provides a comfortable dining temperature even during sizzling summer days, and the staff skillfully escorts you to an available and appropriate table. Tables are cramped, yet diners do not mind this layout at all because of the quality of the menu selection.

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Once you enter, you will immediately realize the low ceiling. Up ahead from the entrance is a tempting, refrigerated display of different cheesecakes and pastries to make you crave for a sweet ending to your meal.

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Various wines are also displayed on a small table to the right, suggesting the appropriate libation companion for your orders, before you turn left for more tables.

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Straight ahead, thereafter,are the hand-washing area and restrooms — with an even lower ceiling — but these are well-maintained, and are much appreciated features in such a simple town.

The finishing touches of the dishes/desserts as well as the beverage preparation are seen by diners since the pantry area is open, along with the cashier’s section, the latter surrounded by inviting “pasalubongs3” of different chocolate, assorted nuts, and local goodies.

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Seniors, get your fill from the following:

StartersFresh Salads (Caesar, House, Insalata Mare, Pecan Crusted Chicken, Sicilian Chicken, and Walnut – PHP 300-320), Salads (Macaroni, and Potato – PHP 100/120), Appetizers (Chicken Fingers, French Fries, Mojos, and Onion Rings – PHP 70-110), Soups (Asparagus, Chicken, Mushroom, and Squash – PHP 100-120), and Bread (Garlic, and Stuffed Pizza – PHP 10/40)

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Pizzas – Bacon-Chicken-Mushroom Melt, BBQ Chicken, De Luxe, Garden Veggie, Four Cheese, Hawaiian, Kesong Puti3, Margherita, Meat Supreme, Mediterranean, Pepperoni, Prosciutto – Large (PHP320), XL (PHP360) and Thick (PHP420-430)

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PastaBaked (Baked Macaroni, Baked Ziti4, and Beef Lasagna – PHP120-130); Pasta in White Sauce (Alfredo, Carbonara, and Fettuccine – PHP 120-130); Pasta in Red Sauce (Eggplant, Italian Style, Marinara, Pinoy Style, Pomodoro, and Puttanesca – PHP120-140); House SpecialtiesOlive Oil (Fish in White Wine; Fortulana; Fusili; Pancetta Magreta; Spaghettini with Aglio de Olio; Spaghettini with Anchovies, Black Olives and Tomato; Spaghettini with Italian Sausage, and Vongole – PHP 270-300); Pesto (Plain, Grilled Chicken Pesto, Penne in Creamy Pesto Sauce, Salmon in Creamy Pesto, Seafood in Creamy Pesto Sauce, Seafood Pesto, and Shrimp Pesto – PHP280-320); Tomato-Based (Chicken Parmigiano, Eggplant Parmigiano, Grilled Chicken in Marinara Sauce, Mediterranean Grilled Fish, Penne Arrabiata, Pescatora, Ratatouille, Seafood in Marinara Sauce, Seafood Puttanesca, Shrimp Pomodoro – PHP 270-320); Creamy Tomato (Baked Penne Florentine, Penne Al Telepono, Pink Salmon Pasta – PHP280-300); and Cream-Based (Grilled Chicken in Alfredo Sauce, Fettucine in Alfredo Sauce with Prosciutto, Seafood in Alfredo Sauce, Sirloin Fettucine, Veneziana – PHP290-300)

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Seafood – Blue Marlin, Boneless Bangus4 Belly, Cartoccio, Grilled Fish in Caponata Sauce, Mixed Seafoods, Pan Grilled John Dory, Parmesan Crusted Fish, Pink Salmon, Sinaing na Bangus4, Tanigue5, and Tortilla Wrapped Fish – PHP240-320, mostly with vegetables/salad and rice/mashed potato

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Pork – Grilled (Country Style Pork, Korean Pork BBQ, Pork BBQ on Stick, Pork Chop – PHP 160-240) and Baby Back Ribs (Baby Back Beef -2 pieces, ¼ slab, PHP250/300); Baby Back Pork ¼ slab – PHP250

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Desserts – Bread Pudding, Brownies (Plain, Fudge Walnut Brownie, Ghirardelli6 – PHP17-60) and Cheesecakes (Affogato7, Black Velvet, Blueberry, Carrot Cake, Chocolate Chips, Choco Lava, Choco Mousse, Dulce de Leche, Oreo, Red Velvet, Strawberry & Mango, Tiramisu – PHP120-145)

Waffles – Plain, Blueberry, Cheese, Chocolate, Mango, Nutella and Strawberry – with cream (PHP70-90) or ala mode (PHP85-110)

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Coffee– Café Americano, Café Latte, Café Mocha, Cappuccino, Crème Brulee Latte, Espresso, Hazelnut Cream, Irish Cream, Long Coffee, Macchiato, Mocha Chocomint, Peppermint Mocha, Turtle Latte, White Choco Peppermint Mocha, White Mint Cappuccino (PHP80-130)

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Specialty DrinksHot (Café Mocha, Cinnamon Mocha, Hot Chocolate Float, Real Hot Chocolate, White Heat – PHP120), Ice Coffee (Cappuccino, Dark Arabica, Latte Arabica, Mocha Arabica – PHP100), and Other Cold Drinks (Chocolate & Almond Float, Cold Chocolate Drink, Frappuccino, Green Tea Matcha, Irish Mocha, Milky Way, Mocha Cream, Mocha Float, Strawberry Frappe, White Rabbit – PHP 130-140)

Other DrinksItalian Soda (Blue Mojito, Green Apple, Green Apple Mint, Green Soda, Green Soda Mint, Kiwi, Kiwi Mint – PHP120), Juices (Apple Nectar, Grape Nectar, Lemon, Mango, Orange Nectar, Peach Nectar, Pineapple – PHP85), Fresh Fruits Shakes (Avocado, Celery, Green Mango, Lemon, Mango-Grape-Strawberry, Ripe Mango, Strawberry, Watermelon, and Watermelon-Mango-Grape – PHP130-140), Sodas (Coke, Coke Light, Coke Zero, Mountain Dew, Mug, Sprite, 7Up), and Lemon Iced Tea (PHP70)

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So, when you get tired walking from one footwear stall to another in Liliw, Laguna, do visit Arabela. Be aware that it has a limited capacity (for 50 people only) and easily gets packed, but is totally worth the eventual wait.

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This restaurant opens daily at 11:15 AM, after the team prays together, and closes at 7 PM. Yes, you read it right, 7 PM, so come early for dinner since last orders are taken at 6:45 PM!

I have witnessed and honestly appreciate improvements in this restaurant through the years yet somehow yearn for the early days when portions and ingredients were quite generous. Nonetheless, current presentations and portions are just fine with me.

Here are my favorites, over the years: Walnut Salad, Seafood Puttanesca, Seafood in Alfredo Sauce, Baby Back Ribs, assorted cheesecakes, and Watermelon Shake.

Arabela-food-3                                                            Walnut Salad, yum!

 

Arabela-food-12                                     Assorted cheesecakes for my sweet tooth!

Some consider the prices of menu items as high but I consider the food/drinks worth it and still go to this restaurant to-date, entertaining visiting family and friends.

The staff are efficient, attentive and friendly. Service is relatively fast, even during peak hours.

This is not a sponsored post. I paid for all my visits in this restaurant.

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Contact information: Telephone: (049) 5632495; Mobile Numbers: 0917-2041447 and 0927-3860639; Facebook: Arabela

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1Liliw is a small highland town in Laguna, located at District 4. It is bounded on the northwest by the town of Sta. Cruz, west by Nagcarlan, northeast by Magdalena, east by Majayjay, and on the south by Dolores, Quezon. The One Town One Product (OTOP8) of this fourth class municipality9 is footwear which is like Marikina City10, in Metro Manila. It is also known for its cold-water spring resorts, native homemade sweets, and its Baroque11-style parish church, all to be featured in future posts. Information derived from Wikipedia page “Liliw”.12

2Mount Banahaw is an active, three-peaked volcano located between the provinces of Laguna and Quezon, in the island of Luzon, in the Philippines. It is the tallest mountain in the CALABARZON13 region, with an elevation of 2,170 meters, so it is a favorite among mountain climbers. It is also considered a “sacred mountain” and pilgrims visit its sacred springs, caves, streams and boulders. Information is according to Wikipedia page “Mount Banahaw”.14

3Kesong Puti, literally “white cheese” in Tagalog, is a soft, unaged, white cheese made from unskimmed carabao’s milk, rennet15 (or vinegar) and salt. It is similar to cottage cheese, with its soft texture and slightly salty taste. It is a popular breakfast item, eaten with pan de sal16 in the Philippines. Information is according to Wikipedia page “Kesong puti”.17

4Bangus, or milkfish, is the local term for the (unofficial yet commonly considered) national fish of the Philippines. This elongated fish is the sole living species in the family of Chanidae, with the binomial name of ChanosChanos. It usually measures no more than 1 meter (39 inches) in length, but can grow to 1.80 meters (5 ft. 11 inches) in length. It has an almost compressed body, with a generally symmetrical and streamlined appearance, one dorsal fin, falcate pectoral fins and a sizeable forked caudal fin. Its body is colored olive green, with silvery flanks and dark bordered fins. Its mouth is small and toothless. It feeds on algae, cyanobacteria and small invertebrates. Information is according to Wikipedia page “Milkfish”.18

5Tanigue, or tangigue, refers to the following fishes in the Philippines: Indo-Pacific king mackerel (Scomberomorusguttatus), narrow-barred Spanish mackerel (Scomberomoruscommerson), striped bonito (Sardaorientalis), Wahoo (Acanthocybiumsolandri), Scomberaustraliscus, Scomber japonicus, Scomberomorusqueensladicus, and Scomberomorus semifasciatus.19 It is commonly cut crosswise into thick “steaks” and then fried or grilled, dipped in soy sauce with calamansi, and served with steamed rice in the Philippines.

6Ghirardelli refers to the chocolate product line of Ghirardelli Chocolate Company, the United States division of Swiss confectioner Lindt &Sprüngli. It was founded by, and named after, Italian chocolatier Domenico Ghirardelli who settled in California, according to Wikipedia page “Ghirardelli Chocolate Company”.20

7Affogato is an Italian coffee-based dessert, usually consisting of a scoop of vanilla gelato or ice cream, topped with a shot of hot espresso. Amaretto, Bicerin, or other liqueurs may be used instead of espresso, according to Wikipidea page “Affogato”.21

8OTOP stands for One Town, One Product, a promotional program of the Philippine government that aims to promote the best goods and products of Filipino towns, cities, and regions, and provides funding for micro, small and medium-scale businesses. Said program is administered by the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI), and was launched in 2004. It covers tangible products and skills-based services: agri-based products, arts and crafts (e.g., bamboo, coco coir, paper artistry, weaves, and wood), home and fashion/creative artisanal (e.g., décor, fabrics, furniture, garments, houseware, gifts, souvenir items, textiles and toys), processed food, and skills-based services (e.g., hilot, sculpting, personal care and wellness products).22

9A fourth-class municipality is the fourth income classification (out of six) of a municipality or town in the Philippines, and has an annual income of PHP25,000,000-34,999.999 during the previous four calendar years. NOTE: The highest level is a first-class municipality with at least PHP55 million, followed by, in descending order, a second-class municipality with PHP45 million-54,999,999, a third-class municipality with PHP35 million-44,999,999, a fifth-class municipality with15 million-24,999,999, and the lowest level is a sixth-class municipality with at most PHP15 million. Information is according to Wikipedia page “Municipalities of the Philippines”.23

10Marikina City is a highly urbanized city in Metro Manila known as the Shoe Capital of the Philippines, producing almost 70% of the shoes manufactured in the country, according to Wikipedia page “Marikina”.24

11Baroque is a highly ornate and often extravagant style of architecture, art and music that flourished in Europe from the early 17th until the late 18th century, following the Renaissance style, and preceding the Neoclassical style. Baroque churches were designed with a large central space where the churchgoers could be close to the altar with a dome or cupola overhead, allowing light to illuminate the church below. A Baroque-style church also features, among others, the quadrature with lavish paintings of saints and angels on the ceiling, connected by architectural details with the balustrades and consoles, giving an impression of real figures as if one looks up to heaven, according to Wikipedia page “Baroque”.25

12Liliw”, accessed June 1, 2018, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Liliw.

13The CALABARZON region, Southern Tagalog Mainland, or Region IV-A, is an administrative region in the Philippines, named after the acronym of its five provinces: Cavite, Laguna, Batangas, Rizal and Quezon.

14“Mount Banahaw”, accessed June 1, 2018, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mount_Banahaw.

15Rennet is a complex of enzymes produced in the stomachs of ruminant mammals such as cattle, antelope, deer, goats, kangaroo, sheep and yaks26, which acquire nutrients from plant-based food by fermenting it in a specialized stomach prior to digestion, principally through microbial actions.27

16Pan de sal is the popular and common bread served for breakfast in the Philippines made of flour, eggs, salt, sugar, and yeast. It literally means “salt bread” in Spanish.

17“Kesong puti”, accessed June 1, 2018, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kesong_puti.

18“Milkfish”, accessed June 1, 2018, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Milkfish.

19www.aboutfilipinofood.com

20“Ghirradelli Chocolate Company”, accessed June 1, 2018, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ghirardelli_Chocolate_Company.

21”Affogato”,accessed June 1, 2018, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/affogato.

22www.dti.gov.ph

23“Municipalities of the Philippines”, accessed June 1, 2018, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Municipalities_of_the_Philippines.

24“Marikina”, accessed June 1, 2018, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Marikina.

25“Baroque”, accessed June 1, 2018, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Baroque.

26“Rennet”, accessed June 1, 2018, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rennet.

27“Ruminant”, accessed June 1, 2018, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ruminant.

GERRY’S RESTAURANT & BAR: Gratifying Grilled Gustation

Location: Ground Floor, Butterfly Garden, Resort Drive, Newport City, Pasay City, Metro Manila, Philippines

When we crave for “inihaw1”, one place that definitely comes to mind is Gerry’s Grill!

Its first restaurant opened on February 14, 1997 at Tomas Morato in Quezon City. After 21 years, it currently has 95 branches nationwide: 2 in Cagayan Valley, 12 in CALABARZON2, 15 in Central Luzon, 5 in Central Visayas, 3 in Eastern Visayas, 11 in Mindanao, 37 in NCR, 5 in North Luzon, 2 in South Luzon, and 3 in Western Visayas. It also has 6 branches overseas (3 in the USA, 2 in Singapore and 1 in Qatar).3

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This family-casual dining restaurant offers a wide array of Filipino dishes: appetizers, soups, char-grilled items, sizzling selections, seafood, chicken, pork, beef, rice, vegetables, kinilaw4, merienda5 treats, desserts, shakes, juices, soft drinks, hot drinks, cold drinks, and alcoholic drinks.

It has been decades since we last ate at the original Tomas Morato branch but we were recently in the Newport area and opted to have lunch there.

This Newport City branch is open daily, from 10AM till 12 midnight. It offers airconditioned dining as well as outdoor seating. The latter would be ideal for unwinding after work with cocktails or other alcoholic drinks, accompanied by appetizers or char-grilled orders.

We arrived half past noon. It was very hot outdoors, so the place was packed; but we found a table at one corner indoors. Parking was a problem, though.

I liked the large menu card which really entices customers to order since the colored pictures are so good to look at! Here are the pictures:

3-GerrySoups and Kilaw, Gerry’s Restaurant & Bar, Newport City

4-GerryAppetizers, Gerry’s Restaurant & Bar, Newport City

5-GerryOther Appetizers, Gerry’s Restaurant & Bar, Newport City

6-Gerry.jpgVegetables, Gerry’s Restaurant & Bar, Newport City

7-GerryPork and Beef Dishes, Gerry’s Restaurant & Bar, Newport City

8-Gerry.jpgChicken Dishes, Gerry’s Restaurant & Bar, Newport City

9-Gerry.jpgOther Chicken Dishes, Gerry’s Restaurant & Bar, Newport City

10-Gerry.jpgChar-Grilled Dishes, Gerry’s Restaurant & Bar, Newport City

11-Gerry.jpgSizzling Treats, Gerry’s Restaurant & Bar, Newport City

12-Gerry.jpgSizzling Selections, Gerry’s Restaurant & Bar, Newport City

13-Gerry.jpgOther Sizzling Dishes, Gerry’s Restaurant & Bar, Newport City

14-Gerry.jpgSeafood and Rice, Gerry’s Restaurant & Bar, Newport City

15-Gerry.jpgSeafood and Rice Dishes, Gerry’s Restaurant & Bar, Newport City

16-Gerry.jpgMerienda Selection, Gerry’s Restaurant & Bar, Newport City

17-Gerry.jpgDesserts, Gerry’s Restaurant & Bar, Newport City

18-Gerry.jpgNon-Alcoholic Drinks, Gerry’s Restaurant & Bar, Newport City

19-Gerry.jpgAlcoholic Drinks, Gerry’s Restaurant & Bar, Newport City

20-Gerry.jpgFresh Fruit Drinks, Gerry’s Restaurant & Bar, Newport City

21-Gerry.jpgSummer Treats 2018, Gerry’s Restaurant & Bar, Newport City

 

After a weekend stay in a resort with buffet meals, we decided to stay away from pork dishes. We finally agreed and ordered the following:

24-Gerry.jpgThe Sinigang na Boneless Bangus6 was served hot but was not sour enough. However, this was good for the kid with us.

The Sizzling Kangkong7 a la Pobre was served on a sizzling plate but was not sizzling at all. We were disappointed because it was watery, lacked the expected garlic taste, and was mostly stalks, instead of leaves.

26-Gerry.jpgThe Inihaw na Pusit8 was the winner for this visit! It was grilled just right and one order could be shared.

27-Gerry.jpgThe Inihaw na Manok is a half-chicken order that is char-grilled and could be shared as well. However, it was too dry and lacked the anticipated marinated taste.

25-Gerry.jpgThe Special Binagoongang Rice9 was good and perfect with the grilled items we ordered.

 

22-Gerry.jpgThe watermelon shake was refreshing and not too sweet.

23-Gerry.jpgThe fresh buko10 juice was served chilled, with a straw, and still in the buko shell. (Note to balikbayans who miss this drink: one could not get it any fresher!) We requested the bukos to be opened after sipping the juice. The buko meat was thin and easily scooped with a spoon.

Waiting time for orders was about 20-25 minutes. Service was slow, the waitstaff was not attentive, and getting the bill and change took some time too. My observation: It was almost 2PM but the restaurant was still full. Business is good! Unfortunately, service suffers.

Contact details: (02) 332-1111. Visit its official website –www.gerrysgrill.com, Facebook account – gerrysgrill.com.ph, and Instagram – @gerrysrestaurant

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I hope these footnotes will be appreciated by foreign viewers of this blog who are not familiar with local terms:

1Inihaw is the Filipino term for grilled, roasted, barbecued, or broiled.

2CALABARZON, or Region IV-A, is a Philippine region located in the island group of Luzon, with Calamba as its regional center. CALABARZON is an acronym for this region’s five provinces: CAvite, LAguna, BAtangas, Rizal, QueZON.

3www.gerrysgrill.com

4Kinilaw is the Filipino term for a raw native Filipino dish, similar to ceviche. It literally means “eaten raw”. The fresh cubed fish/seafood, or lightly grilled and chopped meat, is mixed primarily with vinegar, plus a souring agent (usually calamansi or dayap), and flavored with salt and black pepper, ginger, onions, and chilis.

5Merienda is the Filipino term for morning or afternoon snack.

6Bangus, or milkfish, is the national fish of the Philippines. Filipinos usually prefer it prepared “boneless” because its numerous pin bones would otherwise make eating it a bit difficult.

7Kangkong is a semiaquatic, tropical vegetable-plant, grown for its leaves and tender shoots, according to the Wikipedia page, “Ipomoea aquatica”.10 It is also known as swamp cabbage, Chinese convolvulus/spinach/watercress, water morning glory, and river/water spinach. It is a popular vegetable in Filipino cuisine, used in a variety of dishes like sinigang and adobo.

8Pusit is the Filipino term for squid, usually cooked as adobo or grilled.

9Binagoongang Rice is a Filipino version of fried rice made with sautéed shrimp paste (called bagoong) and thin slices of raw-ripe mangoes.

10Buko is the Filipino term for young coconut harvested for its sweet and refreshing juice/water and thin, easy to scoop, meat.

10Ipomoeaaquatica,” accessed April 20, 2018, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ipomoea_aquatica